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WAYLTL - September 2020
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Oscar
2020-09-01 20:55:44 UTC
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From The Brigitte Fassbaender Edition (CD 6)

Liszt, Strauss (R): Lieder

Brigitte Fassbaender (Mz) & Irwin Gage (pf)

DG 483 6913 ℗ 1987 © 2019. 11 CD boxed set.
DDD.
Recorded at Studio Lankwitz, Berlin, June 1985 & January 1986.
Recording producer: Wolfgang Stengel.
Tonmeister: Klaus Behrens.
Total time: 57:03.
℗ 1987 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin.

This edition:
℗ © 2019 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin.
Project manager: Meike Leiser.
Booklet editor: Eva Reisinger, texthouse.
Design: Fred Münzmaier.
Booklet note: Brigitte Fassbaender in conversation with Thomas Voigt.
Printed in the E.U.

COMMENT: This is a very satisfying disc. I prefer the Strauss works, as a whole, but the Liszt lieder, the majority of which are completely unfamiliar to me, are very good too. Fassbaender's voice has always appealed to me. Excellent value for $23 from Presto (sale is over).
Todd Michel McComb
2020-09-01 21:16:08 UTC
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Tournemire: Complete Organ Music
Tjeerd van der Ploeg on Brilliant Classics, 4CDs

Some early 20th century music for which I have a soft spot.... Only
just starting this anthology, but it seems to be well done, with
articulate performances & pleasing registrations....

And I think the old single CD album of the late organ symphonies
by Georges Delvallee is long unavailable?

Op.69 opens both collections, and has been my favorite Tournemire
piece.
dk
2020-09-01 21:40:30 UTC
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Doing WTC verticals this month.

dk
raymond....@gmail.com
2020-09-02 00:43:42 UTC
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Post by dk
Doing WTC verticals this month.
dk
Hindemith's Ludus Tonalis, which is similarly varied to WTC and seems to be well played by Käbi Laretei on Eloquence. Dry in the Hindemith way, but might be worth further study. Richter has recorded this but Laretei seems well in control of this music.

Steve Reich's Phases 5 CD box on Nonesuch. Music for 18 Musicians made my head spin, delightfully so. I'll be dipping in and out of this box for a few days.

Ray Hall, Taree
Al Eisner
2020-09-02 03:58:48 UTC
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the Berlin Philharmoniker Digial Concert Hall is featuring a long
playlist of Czech music, assembled from past concerts: lots of
Dvorak of course, Smetana, Janacek, Martinu, a long symphony by
Suk, and one composer I;ve never heard of. Since I've listened to
only a little Martinu in the past, I chose to listen to the two of
his works on the playlist:

Violin Concerto #2 (Frank Peter Zimmermann, Mariss Jansons, 2012).
I didn't get much out of the first movement, but the second and third
were very Czech (in an older sort of way) and quite enjoyable.

Symphony #4 (Alan Gilbert, 2009). A very impressive and colorful work,
especially as performed here. I'm surprised I haven't previously
run into it. Are other Martinu works this good?
--
Al Eisner
Raymond Hall
2020-09-02 08:55:19 UTC
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Post by Al Eisner
the Berlin Philharmoniker Digial Concert Hall is featuring a long
playlist of Czech music, assembled from past concerts: lots of
Dvorak of course, Smetana, Janacek, Martinu, a long symphony by
Suk, and one composer I;ve never heard of. Since I've listened to
only a little Martinu in the past, I chose to listen to the two of
Violin Concerto #2 (Frank Peter Zimmermann, Mariss Jansons, 2012).
I didn't get much out of the first movement, but the second and third
were very Czech (in an older sort of way) and quite enjoyable.
Symphony #4 (Alan Gilbert, 2009). A very impressive and colorful work,
especially as performed here. I'm surprised I haven't previously
run into it. Are other Martinu works this good?
--
Al Eisner
All six symphonies are excellent, with perhaps the 4th being the most popular. Easily distinguishable from other composers, with his own orchestral sound very unique, very Czech. He wrote an excellent Double Concerto for 2 string orchestras, 6 symphonies, and a heap of concerto type works, as well as chamber music. He was quite prolific.

Ray Hall, Taree
Al Eisner
2020-09-02 20:17:57 UTC
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Post by Raymond Hall
Post by Al Eisner
the Berlin Philharmoniker Digial Concert Hall is featuring a long
playlist of Czech music, assembled from past concerts: lots of
Dvorak of course, Smetana, Janacek, Martinu, a long symphony by
Suk, and one composer I;ve never heard of. Since I've listened to
only a little Martinu in the past, I chose to listen to the two of
Violin Concerto #2 (Frank Peter Zimmermann, Mariss Jansons, 2012).
I didn't get much out of the first movement, but the second and third
were very Czech (in an older sort of way) and quite enjoyable.
Symphony #4 (Alan Gilbert, 2009). A very impressive and colorful work,
especially as performed here. I'm surprised I haven't previously
run into it. Are other Martinu works this good?
--
Al Eisner
All six symphonies are excellent, with perhaps the 4th being the most popular. Easily distinguishable from other composers, with his own orchestral sound very unique, very Czech. He wrote an excellent Double Concerto for 2 string orchestras, 6 symphonies, and a heap of concerto type works, as well as chamber music. He was quite prolific.
Ray Hall, Taree
Thanks. I also got one private reply from another Martinu enthusiast
who usually participates here. Lots to investigate; I'll get to some
of it. Based on #4, I like the style.
--
Al Eisner
Frank Berger
2020-09-02 21:47:46 UTC
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On Wednesday, 2 September 2020 13:58:55 UTC+10, Al Eisner
Post by Al Eisner
the Berlin Philharmoniker Digial Concert Hall is
featuring a long
lots of
Dvorak of course, Smetana, Janacek, Martinu, a long
symphony by
Suk, and one composer I;ve never heard of.  Since I've
listened to
only a little Martinu in the past, I chose to listen to
the two of
Violin Concerto #2 (Frank Peter Zimmermann, Mariss
Jansons, 2012).
I didn't get much out of the first movement, but the
second and third
were very Czech (in an older sort of way) and quite
enjoyable.
Symphony #4 (Alan Gilbert, 2009).  A very impressive and
colorful work,
especially as performed here.  I'm surprised I haven't
previously
run into it.  Are other Martinu works this good?
--
Al Eisner
All six symphonies are excellent, with perhaps the 4th
being the most popular. Easily distinguishable from other
composers, with his own orchestral sound very unique, very
Czech. He wrote an excellent Double Concerto for 2 string
orchestras, 6 symphonies, and a heap of concerto type
works, as well as chamber music. He was quite prolific.
Ray Hall, Taree
Thanks.  I also got one private reply from another Martinu
enthusiast
who usually participates here.  Lots to investigate; I'll
get to some
of it.  Based on #4, I like the style.
If I could only listen to one Martinu work it would be the
Double Concerto for Two String Orchestras, Piano and
Tympani. There are many fine performances, including
Kubelik, Mackerras and Sejna.
Ed Presson
2020-09-03 18:38:35 UTC
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If I could only listen to one Martinu work it would be the Double Concerto
for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Tympani. There are many fine
performances, including Kubelik, Mackerras and Sejna.
I agree. Of all the Martinu I've collected (an embarrassing number),
this is probably my favorite.

Ed Presson
c***@gmail.com
2020-09-03 19:39:36 UTC
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Post by Ed Presson
If I could only listen to one Martinu work it would be the Double Concerto
for Two String Orchestras, Piano and Tympani. There are many fine
performances, including Kubelik, Mackerras and Sejna.
I agree. Of all the Martinu I've collected (an embarrassing number),
this is probably my favorite.
Ed Presson
Ditto with respect to the embarrassing accumulation of Martinů (gotta retain that diacritic). There have been a lot of recommendations here over the years. As a chamber music fan, I highly recommend the Cello Sonatas, of which there are many fine recordings, but this one is a real sleeper: https://www.karinegeorgian.com/cdreviews.htm#martinu. The Cello Concerto #1 is fantastic too, and this is a terrific performance with out of the way coupligs: https://www.supraphonline.cz/album/48-martinu-foerster-novak-violoncellove-koncerty. For total Martinů delight, however, nothing can top this gem: https://www.supraphonline.cz/album/1366-martinu-skladby-inspirovane-jazzem-kuchynska-revue-le-jazz-h.

Happy listening,

AC
Todd Michel McComb
2020-09-03 19:57:38 UTC
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Ditto with respect to the embarrassing accumulation of Martinů (gotta
retain that diacritic).
Can't see the diacritic, sorry....

I didn't notice anyone mention the difference in the music Martinu
wrote after cracking his skull. Into shadings like stained glass
windows, so very different from e.g. Double Concerto....
Andrew Clarke
2020-09-03 21:44:04 UTC
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Post by Todd Michel McComb
Post by c***@gmail.com
Ditto with respect to the embarrassing accumulation of Martinů (gotta
retain that diacritic).
Can't see the diacritic, sorry....
I can.

Andrew Clarke
Canberra
Raymond Hall
2020-09-04 00:36:27 UTC
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Post by Todd Michel McComb
Post by c***@gmail.com
Ditto with respect to the embarrassing accumulation of Martinů (gotta
retain that diacritic).
Can't see the diacritic, sorry....
I didn't notice anyone mention the difference in the music Martinu
wrote after cracking his skull. Into shadings like stained glass
windows, so very different from e.g. Double Concerto....
The diacritic appears on my pc.

Chasing up your comment above, it appears that Martinu suffered a near fatal concussion at Tanglewood in 1946, having been forced to flee Paris (where he lived) to the US. It was customary for him to compose whilst walking and he walked clear through a barrier, fell some distance, and cracked his skull. He did not compose for about 4 years. He died in 1959.

Many Czechs regard him with some suspicion, having left his homeland for France, although this is somewhat understandable. To many he is a French Czech.

Hyperion gives this note about him from link below.
https://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/dc.asp?dc=D_CDD22039

Ray Hall, Taree
Todd Michel McComb
2020-09-04 02:06:06 UTC
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Post by Raymond Hall
The diacritic appears on my pc.
Ah, sorry, certainly didn't mean to start a referendum on character
sets... mostly just noting that I wouldn't be following the advice
to retain it.

But I've liked some of Martinu's late music. Not quite like anything
else. (I'd be more specific, but am going off vague memory....)
Todd Michel McComb
2020-09-04 20:40:42 UTC
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Post by Todd Michel McComb
But I've liked some of Martinu's late music. Not quite like anything
else. (I'd be more specific, but am going off vague memory....)
Instead of continuing to be lazy, I decided to run through some
symphonic music today. Memory is now less vague: Symphony No. 6
& "Les fresques..." are two later works I've enjoyed. The earlier
symphonies did nothing for me, although they've got some pretty
music.
Peter
2020-09-04 00:36:59 UTC
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Martinů for me is a guilty pleasure. He tends to be superficial and resolves harmonically much too quickly, but he is also extremely inventive and the cheerfulness can be addictive. In fact, I can’t think of another 20th century composer as cheerful as he is. (He can also be wistful, distraught etc., but there is surely a lot more cheer than you get anywhere else.)

I like his Epic of Gilgamesh but dislike Julietta (both music and libretto). Chamber music is pretty reliable. Both cello concertos are satisfying, also many of the pieces for violin and orchestra. (He was a violinist himself.)

I guess another part of the guilt is that little of his music rises to greatness but a lot of it is enjoyable. Maybe a bit like Milhaud that way. (Another cheerful guy.)
c***@gmail.com
2020-09-04 13:30:19 UTC
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Post by Peter
Martinů for me is a guilty pleasure. He tends to be superficial and resolves harmonically much too quickly, but he is also extremely inventive and the cheerfulness can be addictive. In fact, I can’t think of another 20th century composer as cheerful as he is. (He can also be wistful, distraught etc., but there is surely a lot more cheer than you get anywhere else.)
I like his Epic of Gilgamesh but dislike Julietta (both music and libretto). Chamber music is pretty reliable. Both cello concertos are satisfying, also many of the pieces for violin and orchestra. (He was a violinist himself.)
I guess another part of the guilt is that little of his music rises to greatness but a lot of it is enjoyable. Maybe a bit like Milhaud that way. (Another cheerful guy.)
Well put. Both composers wrote too much music, sometimes seemingly on autopilot. But least there's real gold amid the dross, which makes the mining worthwhile. Martinů's best work in a serious vein is probably the 3rd Symphony, which is a searing experience in a good performance. The bit about the diacritic in my previous post was just funnin', btw. I should have put in a smiley.

AC
Bozo
2020-09-04 16:34:59 UTC
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A new all - Schumann solo piano cd by pianist Nino Gvetadze, complete cd here for free listening. My first hearing of this pianist. Arabesque,Kinderscenen,Kreisleriana,encores. I heard only the Arabesque, “Prophet Bird”, and last 2 sections of Kinderscenen.Challenge Classics label.

Brief bio : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nino_Gvetadze

https://www.nporadio4.nl/cds/nino-gvetadze-einsam

Thought the Arabesque was interestingly darker than usually played,although for my taste a bit over dramatic at times.The last two sections of Kinderscenen , the high points for me of that work, were very well done.Prophet Bird well done , but again for me too dramatic, missing some of the colors, at times.I do not connect well with Kreisleriana, thus did not hear, my issue not hers.
Bozo
2020-09-05 12:26:04 UTC
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Fww. I suspect the Martinu not done live often (?):

Martinů: Concerto for Double String Orchestra, Piano and Timpani

Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Ulster Orchestra
Conductor Jac Van Steen Waterfront Hall, Belfast,Sept.5,2020

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000m6rz ( Ignore the “Tracklist” at the site.)
Bozo
2020-09-05 12:34:51 UTC
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Fww.I suspect the MArtinu not done live often (?) :

Martinů: Concerto for Double String Orchestra, Piano and Timpani


Bartók: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta


Ulster Orchestra , 
Conductor Jac Van Steen , Waterfront Hall, Belfast,Sept.4 ,2020

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000m6rz (Ignore the “Tracklist” at the site.)
Steve Emerson
2020-09-04 18:30:40 UTC
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Post by Al Eisner
the Berlin Philharmoniker Digial Concert Hall is featuring a long
playlist of Czech music, assembled from past concerts: lots of
Dvorak of course, Smetana, Janacek, Martinu, a long symphony by
Suk, and one composer I;ve never heard of. Since I've listened to
only a little Martinu in the past, I chose to listen to the two of
Violin Concerto #2 (Frank Peter Zimmermann, Mariss Jansons, 2012).
I didn't get much out of the first movement, but the second and third
were very Czech (in an older sort of way) and quite enjoyable.
Symphony #4 (Alan Gilbert, 2009). A very impressive and colorful work,
especially as performed here. I'm surprised I haven't previously
run into it. Are other Martinu works this good?
--
Al Eisner
Glad to see Alan mention the Martinu cello sonatas, among the few Martinu works I regularly return to. Strongly seconding the double concerto "For Two String Orchestras, Piano, and Timpani." I have Sejna/Czech PO/Panenka, (p) 1960 on an Arts cassette (1988), which must hail from my father's collection, quite possibly bought in person at BRO. DIRECT from MASTER; HIGH QUALITY CHROME. Incidental details-R-Us.

SE.
Henk vT
2020-09-02 08:47:34 UTC
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Post by ***@gmail.com
Steve Reich's Phases 5 CD box on Nonesuch. Music for 18 Musicians made my head spin, delightfully so. I'll be dipping in and out of this box for a few days.
Berezovsky makes the LT easy to listen to. In my opinion, it's hist best recording by far.

Henk
number_six
2020-09-02 20:31:27 UTC
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Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by dk
Doing WTC verticals this month.
dk
Hindemith's Ludus Tonalis, which is similarly varied to WTC and seems to be well played by Käbi Laretei on Eloquence. Dry in the Hindemith way, but might be worth further study. Richter has recorded this but Laretei seems well in control of this music.
Steve Reich's Phases 5 CD box on Nonesuch. Music for 18 Musicians made my head spin, delightfully so. I'll be dipping in and out of this box for a few days.
Ray Hall, Taree
Great stuff. I listened to Hindemith's Ludus Tonalis at the college music library -- probably the Wergo recording.

Around the same time, from the city library, I heard Reich's Music for 18 Musicians -- the ECM recording was the only one available at that time. To me, MF18M had an incredible quality of bending my perception, as listener, of the elapsing of time. A major 20th century classic. Have played my CD dozens of times, and acquired other performances.

Reich was also my gateway to he gamelan!
Henk vT
2020-09-02 08:50:11 UTC
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Post by dk
Doing WTC verticals this month.
dk
I would really appreciate it if you would keep us informed.

Henk
c***@gmail.com
2020-09-02 13:04:23 UTC
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John Field Nocturnes played by Pietro Spada (Arts). Excellent background music while preparing for what looks like an arduous semester of online teaching.

AC
Dirge
2020-09-05 22:46:26 UTC
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JOSQUIN des Prez: Missa “L’homme armé” sexti toni • Ave Maria • Inviolata, integra et casta es, Maria • Absalon fili mi • Stabat mater
:: Skinner/Alamire [Kölner Fest für Alte Musik 2017] digital radio broadcast recording

This is the first half of the closing program of Kölner Fest für Alte Musik 2017; it opens with the most compelling account I’ve heard of the original “L’homme armé” song, featuring a wonderfully bass-y bass who makes Tony the Tiger sound like a girlie-man—it’s g-r-r-reat! The mass is performed minus the Credo movement but plus several of the Josquin’s finest motets.

Alamire is a mixed ensemble, using female sopranos and mezzo-sopranos (no countertenors) on high, and it seems to employ two voices per part by default, expanding some or all parts to three or contracting to one as seems appropriate. The group is in excellent voice and sings with studio-like control and precision throughout, but there’s a certain one-size-fits-all sameness to the interpretations and less live frisson/sense of occasion than I was hoping for. The mass nevertheless responds well to the approach, especially the Santus and Agnus Dei, but the motets, however well sung, come off as a bit streamlined and undercharacterized. Even without the Credo, this is probably the most convincing account of the Sexti toni that I’ve heard, but the Credo’s absence gnaws at the completist in me.

As with its studio recordings, Alamire is recorded relatively closely and dryly with little blending, so clarity is excellent and individual voices easy to discern. The overall vocal balance slightly favors the higher voices.

* * *

Bohuslav MARTINŮ: String Quartet No. 5 (1938)
:: Panocha Quartet [Supraphon ’79]

This is Martinů’s weightiest chamber work and a freakishly good anomaly among his seven quartets—an “unexpected masterpiece” as some liner notes put it. It’s often deemed the chamber-music counterpart to the contemporaneous Double Concerto, both being highly wrought (unusual for Martinů), earnestly passionate works inspired by the composer’s ill-fated relationship with a much younger woman; this, of course, is in the time-honored tradition of Janáček and countless others before him and Shostakovich and countless others after him—aging composers are a randy but romantically inept lot. The work is rife with elements of personal anguish and frustration and strife of the kind found in Janáček’s “Intimate Letters,” but they’re expressed not in the wildly temperamental and volatile manner of the impetuous old Moravian, but in the relentless, long-suffering, run-over-by-one-tank-after-another-after-another rhetorical manner of Shostakovich—but within a framework more suggestive of Bartók. (I exaggerate grossly only because it’s a hell of a lot easier than being veracious and making fine distinctions.) The most Martinůesque moment in the work comes a minute into the first movement when the otherwise agitated and insistent music unexpectedly gives way to a sort of ecstatic sigh somewhat similar to the high-flying theme that appears about 3'15" into the first movement of “Fantaisies symphoniques” (1953) via the Ančerl/CzPO recording [Supraphon ’56]. The Adagio second movement sounds like anguished “night music” punctuated by eerie pizzicato, which is unsettlingly sparing and not quite predictable, even morphing into quickly-stroked bowed notes for a spell. The rhythmically motivated Allegro vivo third movement has a scherzoish feel and alternates/morphs between forcefully trenchant music and delicately trenchant music, with a brief haunting by the eerie pizzicato of the second movement. The downcast, almost funeral atmosphere of the Lento fourth/final movement is interrupted for a time by a relatively disturbed and agitated middle section before returning to finish out the work in a less downcast but no less despairing temperament.

The Panocha Quartet gives savvily and suavely negotiated, deftly pointed and inflected, beautifully balanced and phrased performances that tend to generate greater inner tension, a richer atmosphere, and a more compelling dramatic narrative than other groups. The playing isn’t gentle or smoothed over, but I can’t help but wish it were a degree or two more forcefully incisive/trenchant in the more rhythmically vigorous music—the Martinů Quartet [Naxos ’95] is better in this respect, but at too great a cost to other areas that I value. The recorded sound is a bit opaque and constricted but otherwise pretty good.
Steve Emerson
2020-09-06 01:17:09 UTC
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Post by Dirge
JOSQUIN des Prez: Missa “L’homme armé” sexti toni • Ave Maria • Inviolata, integra et casta es, Maria • Absalon fili mi • Stabat mater
:: Skinner/Alamire [Kölner Fest für Alte Musik 2017] digital radio broadcast recording
This is the first half of the closing program of Kölner Fest für Alte Musik 2017; it opens with the most compelling account I’ve heard of the original “L’homme armé” song, featuring a wonderfully bass-y bass who makes Tony the Tiger sound like a girlie-man—it’s g-r-r-reat! The mass is performed minus the Credo movement but plus several of the Josquin’s finest motets.
Alamire is a mixed ensemble, using female sopranos and mezzo-sopranos (no countertenors) on high, and it seems to employ two voices per part by default, expanding some or all parts to three or contracting to one as seems appropriate. The group is in excellent voice and sings with studio-like control and precision throughout, but there’s a certain one-size-fits-all sameness to the interpretations and less live frisson/sense of occasion than I was hoping for. The mass nevertheless responds well to the approach, especially the Santus and Agnus Dei, but the motets, however well sung, come off as a bit streamlined and undercharacterized. Even without the Credo, this is probably the most convincing account of the Sexti toni that I’ve heard, but the Credo’s absence gnaws at the completist in me.
As with its studio recordings, Alamire is recorded relatively closely and dryly with little blending, so clarity is excellent and individual voices easy to discern. The overall vocal balance slightly favors the higher voices.
* * *
Bohuslav MARTINŮ: String Quartet No. 5 (1938)
:: Panocha Quartet [Supraphon ’79]
This is Martinů’s weightiest chamber work and a freakishly good anomaly among his seven quartets—an “unexpected masterpiece” as some liner notes put it. It’s often deemed the chamber-music counterpart to the contemporaneous Double Concerto, both being highly wrought (unusual for Martinů), earnestly passionate works inspired by the composer’s ill-fated relationship with a much younger woman; this, of course, is in the time-honored tradition of Janáček and countless others before him and Shostakovich and countless others after him—aging composers are a randy but romantically inept lot. The work is rife with elements of personal anguish and frustration and strife of the kind found in Janáček’s “Intimate Letters,” but they’re expressed not in the wildly temperamental and volatile manner of the impetuous old Moravian, but in the relentless, long-suffering, run-over-by-one-tank-after-another-after-another rhetorical manner of Shostakovich—but within a framework more suggestive of Bartók. (I exaggerate grossly only because it’s a hell of a lot easier than being veracious and making fine distinctions.) The most Martinůesque moment in the work comes a minute into the first movement when the otherwise agitated and insistent music unexpectedly gives way to a sort of ecstatic sigh somewhat similar to the high-flying theme that appears about 3'15" into the first movement of “Fantaisies symphoniques” (1953) via the Ančerl/CzPO recording [Supraphon ’56]. The Adagio second movement sounds like anguished “night music” punctuated by eerie pizzicato, which is unsettlingly sparing and not quite predictable, even morphing into quickly-stroked bowed notes for a spell. The rhythmically motivated Allegro vivo third movement has a scherzoish feel and alternates/morphs between forcefully trenchant music and delicately trenchant music, with a brief haunting by the eerie pizzicato of the second movement. The downcast, almost funeral atmosphere of the Lento fourth/final movement is interrupted for a time by a relatively disturbed and agitated middle section before returning to finish out the work in a less downcast but no less despairing temperament.
The Panocha Quartet gives savvily and suavely negotiated, deftly pointed and inflected, beautifully balanced and phrased performances that tend to generate greater inner tension, a richer atmosphere, and a more compelling dramatic narrative than other groups. The playing isn’t gentle or smoothed over, but I can’t help but wish it were a degree or two more forcefully incisive/trenchant in the more rhythmically vigorous music—the Martinů Quartet [Naxos ’95] is better in this respect, but at too great a cost to other areas that I value. The recorded sound is a bit opaque and constricted but otherwise pretty good.
I have a Martinu SQ 5 with the Janacek Quartet, looks like mono. Coupling is Martinu #7 with the Vlach. Will re-listen forthwith. Doesn't look like the former has ever been digitized; don't know about the latter. Many thanks for this writeup. I seem to be missing just that volume from the Naxos series.

SE.
c***@gmail.com
2020-09-06 15:25:01 UTC
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Post by Steve Emerson
Post by Dirge
JOSQUIN des Prez: Missa “L’homme armé” sexti toni • Ave Maria • Inviolata, integra et casta es, Maria • Absalon fili mi • Stabat mater
:: Skinner/Alamire [Kölner Fest für Alte Musik 2017] digital radio broadcast recording
This is the first half of the closing program of Kölner Fest für Alte Musik 2017; it opens with the most compelling account I’ve heard of the original “L’homme armé” song, featuring a wonderfully bass-y bass who makes Tony the Tiger sound like a girlie-man—it’s g-r-r-reat! The mass is performed minus the Credo movement but plus several of the Josquin’s finest motets.
Alamire is a mixed ensemble, using female sopranos and mezzo-sopranos (no countertenors) on high, and it seems to employ two voices per part by default, expanding some or all parts to three or contracting to one as seems appropriate. The group is in excellent voice and sings with studio-like control and precision throughout, but there’s a certain one-size-fits-all sameness to the interpretations and less live frisson/sense of occasion than I was hoping for. The mass nevertheless responds well to the approach, especially the Santus and Agnus Dei, but the motets, however well sung, come off as a bit streamlined and undercharacterized. Even without the Credo, this is probably the most convincing account of the Sexti toni that I’ve heard, but the Credo’s absence gnaws at the completist in me.
As with its studio recordings, Alamire is recorded relatively closely and dryly with little blending, so clarity is excellent and individual voices easy to discern. The overall vocal balance slightly favors the higher voices.
* * *
Bohuslav MARTINŮ: String Quartet No. 5 (1938)
:: Panocha Quartet [Supraphon ’79]
This is Martinů’s weightiest chamber work and a freakishly good anomaly among his seven quartets—an “unexpected masterpiece” as some liner notes put it. It’s often deemed the chamber-music counterpart to the contemporaneous Double Concerto, both being highly wrought (unusual for Martinů), earnestly passionate works inspired by the composer’s ill-fated relationship with a much younger woman; this, of course, is in the time-honored tradition of Janáček and countless others before him and Shostakovich and countless others after him—aging composers are a randy but romantically inept lot. The work is rife with elements of personal anguish and frustration and strife of the kind found in Janáček’s “Intimate Letters,” but they’re expressed not in the wildly temperamental and volatile manner of the impetuous old Moravian, but in the relentless, long-suffering, run-over-by-one-tank-after-another-after-another rhetorical manner of Shostakovich—but within a framework more suggestive of Bartók. (I exaggerate grossly only because it’s a hell of a lot easier than being veracious and making fine distinctions.) The most Martinůesque moment in the work comes a minute into the first movement when the otherwise agitated and insistent music unexpectedly gives way to a sort of ecstatic sigh somewhat similar to the high-flying theme that appears about 3'15" into the first movement of “Fantaisies symphoniques” (1953) via the Ančerl/CzPO recording [Supraphon ’56]. The Adagio second movement sounds like anguished “night music” punctuated by eerie pizzicato, which is unsettlingly sparing and not quite predictable, even morphing into quickly-stroked bowed notes for a spell. The rhythmically motivated Allegro vivo third movement has a scherzoish feel and alternates/morphs between forcefully trenchant music and delicately trenchant music, with a brief haunting by the eerie pizzicato of the second movement. The downcast, almost funeral atmosphere of the Lento fourth/final movement is interrupted for a time by a relatively disturbed and agitated middle section before returning to finish out the work in a less downcast but no less despairing temperament.
The Panocha Quartet gives savvily and suavely negotiated, deftly pointed and inflected, beautifully balanced and phrased performances that tend to generate greater inner tension, a richer atmosphere, and a more compelling dramatic narrative than other groups. The playing isn’t gentle or smoothed over, but I can’t help but wish it were a degree or two more forcefully incisive/trenchant in the more rhythmically vigorous music—the Martinů Quartet [Naxos ’95] is better in this respect, but at too great a cost to other areas that I value. The recorded sound is a bit opaque and constricted but otherwise pretty good.
I have a Martinu SQ 5 with the Janacek Quartet, looks like mono. Coupling is Martinu #7 with the Vlach. Will re-listen forthwith. Doesn't look like the former has ever been digitized; don't know about the latter. Many thanks for this writeup. I seem to be missing just that volume from the Naxos series.
Thanks for the heads-up, Steve. While the Vlach #7 has been readily available (lately coupled with Suk op. 31, of great value in itself), I don't believe that I've ever heard a Janáček SQ recording of Martinů SQ#5. There's also a superlative Škampa recording of the piece that may have passed under the radar. (Wish I could be happier about the couplings.) While I recognize the variable quality of Martinů's String Quartets and find greater enjoyment in other chamber works, I'm also fond of SQ#2, which has lots of energy and is surprisingly economical for the composer, esp. in contrast to #1 :-)

AC
Dirge
2020-09-06 18:19:21 UTC
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On Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 8:17:12 PM UTC-5, Steve Emerson wrote:
[...]
I have a Martinu SQ 5 with the Janacek Quartet, looks like mono. Coupling is Martinu #7 with the Vlach. Will re-listen forthwith. Doesn't look like the former has ever been digitized; don't know about the latter. Many thanks for this writeup. I seem to be missing just that volume from the Naxos series.
SE.
I've heard most recordings of #5, but not that one (or the Škampa recording mentioned by AC) ... as you say, it doesn’t seem to have been digitized, at least not by Supraphon. I rarely listen to Martinů’s other quartets, but the Pražák accounts of #3 & #6 [Praga] are too good not to mention; they’re coupled with the Zemlinsky account of #1, which is excellent so far as I can tell, though I’ve never made it all the way through any recording of #1.
Dirge
2020-09-07 23:47:32 UTC
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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonatas No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 12/3 (1798)
:: Zimmermann & Helmchen [BIS ’19]

This is from the first installment (sonatas 1–4) of a projected complete set of the Beethoven violin sonatas, and the playing and interpretation are very much to my liking. As usual with anything that Zimmermann’s involved with, it’s a relatively classical and aristocratic affair in the best sense, with a firm but still flexible musical backbone, elegant/eloquent/tastefully imaginative phrasing, a sure sense of purpose, and top-notch execution and coordination with his equal and like-minded partner. Both players are challenging and supportive of each other as necessary, with a nice sense of give and take and natural rapport. Zimmermann can be too formal and serious in some of his recordings, but he’s in wonderfully well-rounded form here, responding with equal aplomb to all of the music’s various moods. Helmchen is not otherwise familiar to me, but he seems an ideal temperamental and stylistic match, and he’s especially good at imparting a compelling sense of impulse and momentum to the proceedings.

On the downside, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the sound of the Chris Maene Straight Strung Concert Grand Piano (the brainchild of Chris Maene and Daniel Barenboim), which is designed to bring some of the sonic qualities of the fortepiano to the modern grand. The sound of the piano isn’t off-putting or anything like that, but it doesn’t have an entirely unified personality—it sounds like a hybrid in which various elements aren’t fully assimilated into the whole … a sort of Frankensteinway if you will. It may just take some getting used to, but I’m pretty sure that I would have preferred a good Steinway D. Even so, this is my favorite recording of the sonata … not that that means much, as I rarely listen to the work and have heard no more than four or five other recordings of it in my lifetime.

The BIS recording is clear and vivid if a bit too wet and resonant for my taste, while the all-important balance between piano and violin is very well judged.
Dirge
2020-09-09 21:04:17 UTC
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Heitor VILLA-LOBOS: String Quartets No. 5 (1931), No. 7 (1942) & No. 9 (1945)
:: Cuarteto Latinoamericano [Dorian ’00, ’96 & ’00] Brilliant Classics

I’ve been casually revisiting the 17 string quartets of Villa-Lobos, but I find myself quickly dismissing most of them and falling back on my three favorites: #5, #7 & #9. #5 is folky and nationalistic in character, and it has plenty of good tunes, but it’s the intriguingly cross rhythmic scheme (especially in the 2nd movement) that keeps my interest. #7 & #9 are two of the composer’s most thoroughly wrought and “substantial” works in any genre, but they’re quite different in character: #9 is the least melodic (though still lyrical in its way), least tonal (it’s chromatic and atonal), least consonant, and most dense/concentrated of all the quartets, and it has a fair bit of expressionist angst to boot; #7 is less gnarled and challenging at any given moment, as the complexity is drawn out and unraveled rather than consolidated and concentrated, making the music unhurried and easy on the ear for listeners focused and patient enough to stay with it. #7 also seems to be the favorite of most musicians and musicologists specializing in Villa-Lobos, not that that’s helped the work’s popularity; indeed, none of the 17 quartets has really taken on a life of its own … #6 seems to have enjoyed a certain popularity back in the ’50s and early ’60s, having been recorded by the Hollywood, Hungarian, and Brazilian quartets, but it’s hardly a concert or recording staple these days, and I get the sense from blogs and reviews that #5 is currently the most popular of the bunch. Choice performances by Cuarteto Latinoamericano.
Dirge
2020-09-10 23:59:18 UTC
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Albert ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 2 (1921)
:: Jean Martinon/Orchestre national de l’ORTF [Erato ’69]

This is an extremely eclectic and varied 40-minute symphony into which Roussel throws everything, including the kitchen sink. It’s a Janus/transitional work with characteristics of all of Roussel’s music—past, present, and future—present in various measures and states of development. Indeed, it often sounds like an internal tug of war to the death between the Late Romanticism/French Impressionism of the composer’s past and the gruff chromatic neoclassicism of his future. With every tug this way or that, the dense, intricate music morphs into some new hybrid of these opposing forces that’s all the more complex and interesting and compelling for the internal strife. I’m rarely sure of what form the outer movements are in at any given moment, but they have a constantly striving/struggling feel about them within a brooding and despairing moody atmosphere. The middle movement is effectively a scherzo & trio that’s lighter in mood, but there’s always a sense that Roussel is skating away on the thin ice of the new day. There are some less-tense and even cathartic episodes to be found here, the work’s ending being the most profound instance, but tension/anxiety never entirely dissipates even then.

Whatever form the music takes, almost every episode reminds me, however slightly and tenuously, of some other music or composer: Debussy, Ravel, d’Indy, Dukas, Bartók, Prokofiev, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Bax, Bridge, Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, even Roussel himself, all come to mind at one time or another, as do others. Nothing sounds derivative or paraphrased, however; it’s often just a similarity in orchestration or telltale rhythmic or harmonic traits here or there, but it’s just enough to kindle a fuzzy sense of recognition.

Martinon manages tension masterfully and leads the most purposeful and expressively dramatic account of this work that I’ve heard, generally sounding a bit less polished and suave, more rugged and elemental than the competition—Dutoit [Erato], Dervaux [EMI], Janowski [RCA], Eschenbach [Ondine], Denève [Naxos], and probably others. The recorded sound is very good on the whole, and the ORTF plays about as well as I’ve heard it play (which might be construed as a compliment, I suppose).
Oscar
2020-09-11 06:48:43 UTC
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Bruckner: Symphony No.4 in E-flat major, WAB 104 "Romantic" (1878 version)
BRSO / Mariss Jansons
BR Klassik

Streaming on AppleMusic.

These later-era Jansons recordings are never less than uniformly excellent, if not always the 'best' interpretations (comparative listening be darned). I've said it before and I'll say it again: what an orchestra. The string sound, the blending of the horns and winds, the gestalt of it all. What America orchestra compares? Chicago? Sublime. I like this Bruckner almost as much as the Shostakovich 10 that was released in January (and from a 2010 recording, yes, ten years old). Newly released last week is a Shostakovich Fifth, which I have not yet got to. Are these complete Bruckner and Shostakovich cycles in the releasing (not in the making, of course)??
Oscar
2020-09-11 06:58:51 UTC
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Post by Oscar
I like this Bruckner almost as much as the Shostakovich 10 that was released in
January (and from a 2010 recording, yes, ten years old). . .
The Shostakovich 10 was recorded in 2010. This LIVE Bruckner 4 was recorded even earlier, in 2008 in the Philharmonic Hall, Gasteig, Munich. I resisted this recording after reading Terry Barfoot's review in the Bruckner Journal, Vol.24 No.2 (July 2020). Barefoot prefers Jansons's Concertgebouw recording on RCO LIVE (2008), but has complimentary things to say about this one. I've not heard the RCO LIVE SACD.
JohnGavin
2020-09-11 15:04:27 UTC
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Post by Oscar
Post by Oscar
I like this Bruckner almost as much as the Shostakovich 10 that was released in
January (and from a 2010 recording, yes, ten years old). . .
The Shostakovich 10 was recorded in 2010. This LIVE Bruckner 4 was recorded even earlier, in 2008 in the Philharmonic Hall, Gasteig, Munich. I resisted this recording after reading Terry Barfoot's review in the Bruckner Journal, Vol.24 No.2 (July 2020). Barefoot prefers Jansons's Concertgebouw recording on RCO LIVE (2008), but has complimentary things to say about this one. I've not heard the RCO LIVE SACD.
Very much enjoying Yuja Wang / Tilson-Thomas Prokofiev PC #5 from Carnegie Hall.


Henk vT
2020-09-11 17:43:47 UTC
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Post by JohnGavin
Very much enjoying Yuja Wang / Tilson-Thomas Prokofiev PC #5 from Carnegie Hall.
http://youtu.be/B6MKNNA0agc
Seconded. It's a great performance. Besides, she seems to love what she does in a level-headed way. Not looking up to heaven for support, no Houdini on a piano bench, etc. etc. - just excellent piano playing.

Henk
Dirge
2020-09-12 23:53:36 UTC
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G. F. HANDEL: Concerti grossi, Op. 6 (1739)
:: Forck/AAM Berlin [Pentatone ’18 & ’19] w/oboes & bassoons in 1, 2, 5 & 6

These straightforward, highly proficient, brightly lit, and decidedly unlingering performances are more streamlined and efficient than warm and characterful—it’s as if the group is trying too hard to be unaffected. Forck is listed as concertmaster rather than conductor, which explains a lot, as the proceedings also have that all-too-democratic and generic feel of a conductorless orchestra/ensemble. I also dislike the added oboes & bassoons, both here and in general, and the very prominent and present continuo will raise some eyebrows as well. The group does avoid the excessive flexibility of many/most modern accounts, and some of the movements come off well enough, but I’m unable to embrace the bulk of them.
Henk vT
2020-09-13 18:40:05 UTC
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Jean Hubeau, performing Dukas. My favorite version of the sonata, after a not too detailed comparison with Duchable, Fingerhut, and Hamelin.

Henk
Frank Berger
2020-09-13 19:39:17 UTC
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Post by Henk vT
Jean Hubeau, performing Dukas. My favorite version of the sonata, after a not too detailed comparison with Duchable, Fingerhut, and Hamelin.
Henk
And Ogdon? What about Hatto, er, Aspaas?
Frank Berger
2020-09-13 19:58:39 UTC
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Post by Henk vT
Jean Hubeau, performing Dukas. My favorite version of the sonata, after a not too detailed comparison with Duchable, Fingerhut, and Hamelin.
Henk
Had never heard this piece. Listened on YouTube to Hubeau
and Hamelin, finale of Ogdon. None of them stood out for
me. Then I listed to Francoise Thinat (from 1972, never
heard of her) and thought I was listening to a different
piece of music. Much less bombastic (not that that's bad,
necessarily), more sensitive, it moved me like the others
didn't. Just my probably worthless 2 cents.
Henk vT
2020-09-14 08:10:07 UTC
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Post by Frank Berger
Had never heard this piece. Listened on YouTube to Hubeau
and Hamelin, finale of Ogdon. None of them stood out for
me. Then I listed to Francoise Thinat (from 1972, never
heard of her) and thought I was listening to a different
piece of music. Much less bombastic (not that that's bad,
necessarily), more sensitive, it moved me like the others
didn't. Just my probably worthless 2 cents.
I don't have Ogdon and Aspaas. Thinat I only know from YT. I agree with you, it's a lovely version. Hubeau's version sounds the most like I want Dukas played.

Henk
number_six
2020-09-18 17:40:34 UTC
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Lutoslawski - Symphonies 1, 2, Symphonic Variations and Musique funebre
Polish Radio NSO conducted by the composer
this is #3 in EMI Matrix series

Sym 2 has a peculiar "you think it's over but it's not" ending
I did not find structural logic or aesthetic appeal in this conclusion
Until the last 45 seconds or so I liked it but was exasperated by the manner in which the symphony dragged its carcass across the finish line.

Did Witold outwit himself here -- or his listener?

Tassilo
2020-09-14 03:02:10 UTC
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Luciano Berio: Ekphrasis, 2 recordings
Live recording, Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt, Berio (Col legno)
Göteborgs Symfoniker, Peter Eötvös (DG)

Pierre Boulez: Structures pour deux pianos, Deuxième Livre
Live performance, Hidéki Nagano & Sébastien Vichard, pianos
musikfest berlin 2010, 18 September 2010

Donizetti: Caterina Cornaro
Leyla Gencer, Giuseppe Campora, Giuseppe Taddei, Samuel Ramey, James Morris
Chorus & Orchestra of the New Jersey Opera Theatre
Alfredo Silipigni
Live performance, Carnegie Hall, 15 April 1973

Beethoven: Missa solemnis
Janowitz, Ludwig, Wunderlich, Berry
Wiener Singverein, BPO, Karajan (DG)
Peter
2020-09-14 05:21:37 UTC
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Vilde Frang in the Bartok VC1 and the Enescu Octet (Warner). Amazing achievement in the Bartok: while you’re listening you might think this is the true masterpiece, while #2 is just an also-ran. Frang applies a layer of Nordic coolness to the first movement, which is usually performed as if Bartok was pining in public over his breakup with Steffie Geyer. Not here. It is played to emphasize its sheer musicality – the counterpoint and glinting harmonies. Frang has a fat tone that carves out space for the violin as Bartok interacts it with other instruments. The second movement is playful with a springy rhythm, no sarcasm. Really, I haven’t hear any other performance that comes close to this.

With Enescu, on the other hand, we have a Franco-Romanian expressionism, as if Schoenberg had been born in Bucharest and ended up in Paris. It’s intense, but again the counterpoint is very clear, so the muddiness that sometimes results from E’s thick scores is nowhere to be heard. I don’t know this piece very well, so I can’t make comparisons.

If you care about Bartok, though, you should give this a listen.
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